After a ten-year break, Grandaddy is back. The Modesto, Calif. band has signed with Danger Mouse's 30th Century Records and released two new songs, "Way We Won't" and "Clear Your History." The group has also officially announced a new full-length album coming sometime next year. It's the first new music from Grandaddy since 2006's Just Like The Fambly Cat. From the sound of the new songs, the band has lost nothing in the years since.
On this week's +1 podcast, Grandaddy frontman Jason Lytle talks with All Songs Considered's Robin Hilton about getting back in the studio with his old bandmates, the pressure of producing songs worthy of the Grandaddy name and what he calls the most tumultuous two years of his life leading up to the new album. You can hear the full interview with the link above, or read edited highlights below.
Lytle on getting in the right frame of mind to write Grandaddy songs:
"It was kind of a cool exercise for me to really think of these as being Grandaddy songs. And without watering them down or being true to instinct, I'd think, 'So if this is a Grandaddy song, what should it do right here?' It was kind of a fun exercise, going into that mode. And to tell the truth, over the years I've had the opportunity to listen to a lot of people's input and get suggestions, and even having casual conversations with friends of mine about what Grandaddy was to them, and most of the time when they're telling me this stuff, it's like some of the stuff I knew and some of it was like, 'Whoa, I had no idea.' Just the little things that ended up being like Grandaddy elements."
On the attraction of writing about robots:
"One distinction I was always able to make, especially when I started toying around with the idea of putting out solo albums, was that I even remember in the early days of Grandaddy, I wasn't the most kind of open, hug-y, touchy-feely kind of guy, so it always made me a little uncomfortable to have to open myself up too much, or expose too much of what's going on inside of me. And this may have led to the all the stuff about robots and Jed [The Humanoid, from The Sophtware Slump] and I could think about my concerns and my problems and wishes and thoughts and use inanimate objects and other creatures to deflect the attention. But I think I got back to that more. I kept that in mind with the writing [on the new Grandaddy record]."
On the emotional turmoil that led to writing the new Grandaddy song, "Way We Won't":
"These past couple of years have probably been the strangest, weirdest, most tumultuous, uneasy, chaotic years. I mean, it definitely came about when my domestic situation was really at the height of falling apart. And on one hand I like to go to Target, I like to go to Ikea and wander around. But it's so damn sad, too, when you know your own situation. That despite your attempts it's just crumbling and falling apart and there's nothing you can do about it. But I remember I was in a strip mall, big-box stores. All I was doing was walking by one of those furniture home decor places and the electronic door opens. I'm walking by and I just get this big whiff of all the smells there. And within a few seconds the whole idea of the song came. I thought, 'Man, you could live on the top this building.' Rather than homeless people living under an overpass or in some dirty little bushes somewhere, you'd almost be better living on the top of the roof of this big-box store. And every time the door opens you'd get this nice smell. Then this whole picture came into play of this broken couple and how they came to live on the roof of this strip mall."
On being in a better place emotionally and mentally since Grandaddy originally broke up:
"I still have serious doubts. I'm still prone to self sabotage. I'm just a little unstable. And I should probably go to therapy. I should probably do a lot of things. Sometimes I have my stuff together and sometimes I don't and it really blows my mind how big the gap is sometimes. But I'm a little wiser because of years of watching these patterns. And there a few periods in my life where I thought I might not even be getting older. Sure. But you hang in there long enough and start figuring some things out."